Washington DC – After a 27-year run, the Air Force is retiring the F-117 Stealth Fighter. Meant to be nearly invisible to radar, the F-117 has bombed targets in Panama, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq. The F-117s are currently being replaced with the F-22 Raptor.
An informal retirement ceremony will be held at Wright-Patterson Air Force base and the last flights will take off from Holloman Airbase in New Mexico on April 21. The planes will be preserved for a quick return to service if needed.
The intentionally misnamed F-117 Stealth Fighter is actually a bomber that can carry up to two bombs. In order to decrease the plane’s radar signature, the bombs must be carried in internal bays that open up just before the weapon’s release.
59 F-117s were made and seven have crashed. Serbia claims to have shot down one of the seven during the Kosovo conflict in 1999, but the Air Force says mechanical damage forced the plane to the ground. During the first Gulf War conflict, a British ship claims to have detected an F-117 jet.
By today’s standards the F-117 was a very cheap aircraft. Each F-117 cost approximately $45 million dollars while the plane’s replacement, the F-22 Raptor, costs approximately $200 million each.